Jacob Pebley to USA Swimming: “Only Moral Option” is Postponing Trials, Olympics

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Jacob Pebley Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The groundswell of sentiment pushing for postponement of the 2020 USA Olympic Trials and 2020 Olympics Games in light of the coronavirus global pandemic is growing. Thursday, it gained a prominent voice from the athlete community. In a letter posted to his Instagram account, American Olympian Jacob Pebley called on USA Swimming to move to postpone the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

“USA Swimming has the opportunity to lead the push for the only moral option in light of this unprecedented situation,” Pebley wrote. “I am asking for USA Swimming to publicly advocate for postponement of both Trials and the Olympic Games in the best interest of vulnerable people and already overburdened health systems around the world.”

Pebley, 26, finished fifth in the 200 backstroke at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. He acknowledged the risks that he and other athletes go to, in light of the restrictions on public gatherings, to maintain their training, and that removing the carrot of the Olympics would alleviate that incentive. He also calls on athletes to advocate for postponement:

“How can we, members of Team USA and role models for hundreds of thousands of young athletes, attend Olympics Trials/the Olympics in good conscience? To do so would fly in the face of all emerging evidence and best practices for social distancing and protecting the health of vulnerable communities.”

Other voices within American swimming, including prominent coaches Bob Bowman and Frank Busch, have called on USA Swimming to take the lead in postponing their trials and the Olympics until the world gets a handle on the COVID-19 crisis. Pebley’s latter, which received support from several athletes online, would present a new, athlete-centric push.

Pebley’s full letter is below:

4 comments

  1. Kimberly Joy

    Hope they do not. This vurus has been so overhyped its ridiculous.

  2. avatar
    David Abineri

    Let’s change the 2021 World Championships to the Olympic Games. Track and Field could do the same thing. This would allow athletes to plan and prepare properly assuming the virus crisis passes.

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Yes, that’s what they should be thinking off… make the whole thing a positive moment in sports history in which sport did the right thing and found the compromise that best represented the best interests of athletes and what looks like is building to a majority view out there. We don’t have to force athletes to go back 100 years and turn themselves into ‘plucky amateurs’ in a sportscape about as level at the Himalayas… it’s 2020.

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